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    Internship reportguidelines Internship reportguidelines Document Transcript

    • Version 1; January 29, 2004 Guidelines for Writing an Internship Report Master of Electronic Commerce (MEC) Program Dalhousie UniversityThis document is partly based on the Co-op work term report guideline of the Faculty of Computer Science atDalhousie University.
    • Table of ContentsTable of Contents................................................................................................................................ 21. Introduction................................................................................................................................. 32. The Required Components and Purpose of an Internship Report............................................... 33. Developing your Report.............................................................................................................. 4 3.1 Research and Planning Phase.............................................................................................. 4 3.2 Subject Choice .................................................................................................................... 5 3.3 Writing Phase...................................................................................................................... 54. Report Format ............................................................................................................................. 6 4.1 Preliminaries ....................................................................................................................... 6 4.2 Main Text............................................................................................................................ 7 4.3 Reference Material.............................................................................................................. 85. Evaluation ................................................................................................................................... 86. Suggestions for Writing Effectively ........................................................................................... 97. APPENDIX A........................................................................................................................... 118. APPENDIX B ........................................................................................................................... 12 2
    • 1. IntroductionThe internship is an integral part of the Master in Electronic Commerce program. This work termshould provide you with valuable insights into the professional and industry-oriented side ofelectronic commerce in practice. To fulfill the academic requirements of the internship you arerequired to submit an internship report following the specifications outlined in this guide. Pleaseconsult the program web pages for the latest version of this guideline.Success at the workplace demands effective communication skills. Your unique proposal for a newsoftware package or marketing scheme will die on the drawing board if you cannot convince othersof its potential. Most work place communication is written. To grab attention it must conciselyarticulate a clear, interesting message. An involving topic, an organized text, and a readable styleincrease the likelihood of your work being noticed and taken seriously. Often, written work such asreports, assessments and memos are the first and only impression upper management receives ofyou. Your writing becomes your sole representative and reflects the quality, accuracy andprofessionalism of your daily work activities.An Internship Report for the electronic commerce program must include an outline of the businessof the company for which you worked, summarize the work you did, and discuss the specificelectronic commerce relevant aspects of your work term. The report must demonstrate your abilityto communicate what you have done in your internship, it must demonstrate your ability to relateyour work to the bigger picture, and it must demonstrate your ability for critical thinking. You haveto demonstrate that your internship had a major electronic commerce component, or that you areable to relate your work term to electronic commerce issues.The goal of this document is to help you write an appropriate internship report. This guide attemptsto explain the purpose of the internship report, it includes recommendations on the focus yourreport should take in order to fulfill the academic requirements associated with the internship, and itoffers some suggestions on improving your writing style. It is recommended that you study thisguideline before you commence your internship.2. The Required Components and Purpose of an Internship ReportYour internship report has to contain three subject areas: 1. Outline of the background and specific business of the company and/or department in which you performed your internship; 2. Outline of the work that you have performed in the company; 3. A discussion of a specific electronic commerce issue related to your internship. 3
    • The first two components can be brief, and they can be included in the introduction of the report.The major focus of the report should be on the third component, the critical discussion and analysisof a specific internship-related topic. We refer to this component as analytical component. Theanalytical component should relate academic knowledge to practical experience. Its purpose is tohelp you develop written and analytical skills; you will not only gather information but interpret,organize and present it clearly and understandably.It is common that the analytic component and the demonstration of the electronic commerce focusof the internship is perceived as a major challenge of the internship. However, note that it is wellacknowledged that many aspects of your daily work can be praxis oriented rather than academicallyoriented. It is thus clear that your work might include administrative duties as well as mundanetasks required by your employer. It is, of course, important that you follow the direction of youremployer. However, to pass the academic requirements of the internship you must go, if necessary,beyond the following of instructions and demonstrate your ability in critical thinking and theelectronic commerce field. Thus, the internship report allows you to examine aspects of a project orthe organization beyond the work performed by the company. Ideally, the report will be of practicalbenefit to your employer and demonstrates initiatives beyond your instructed work.3. Developing your Report3.1 Research and Planning PhaseStarting early is the key to producing a top-notch, professional report. Last-minute efforts arereflected in a lack of research and poor quality of writing and usually result in an ``unsatisfactorygrade. While you cannot write your report the first month on the job, you can begin gatheringinformation and outlining your ideas. Once you have chosen a topic, keep a notebook to recordyour activities related to the reports research -- methods, observations, meetings attended.Preparation is an on-going process.Planning is essential -- a well-laid out, logical report reflects similar thinking. Decide what youwant to say and to whom and keep that in mind as you organize your thoughts. Gather together allthe information you have collected and divide it into categories. You may want to put each sectionheading on separate pieces of paper and rearrange them until you have found a satisfactory order.Some of what you have gathered will be useful as background information in the introduction,some as support material in the appendices and some will be discarded. The information youfinally decide to use becomes the basis of your outline -- an essential organizing tool in reportwriting. Remember that the outline can be modified in the planning stages but, once you startwriting, stick closely to it so you do not stray off the topic. By the time you complete your report,the outline will have naturally evolved into your Table of Contents. 4
    • 3.2 Subject ChoiceChoosing a subject is a crucial aspect of your success of your internship report. It is sufficient toconcentrate on one specific aspect or problem related to your internship, and it is not required thatyou report in depth on all the projects that you might have encountered during your internship.However, the chosen subject has to be discussed with enough depth, if necessary with effortsbeyond your daily work, so that your treatment of the subject demonstrates a specialist-level abilityin electronic commerce. Managers may help in the selection of a topic. This is to their advantagesince their early contribution can lead to a report that will be of direct use to them. Your `fresh’objective view of a problem or situation can benefit the organization.Your internship report must have an analytical component. Because of this, user guides,descriptions of processes, systems or existing mathematical models, summaries of technical papersor literature are all unacceptable on their own as internship reports. If, for example, you have beendeveloping computer programs that your employer has required you to document, thisdocumentation is not acceptable as a suitable internship report unless it also contains objectives,constraints, feasibility analyses of alternatives and criticism of the outcome. Even if your employerdoes not require this information, it must be included in the report submitted to the electroniccommerce executive committee in order to be evaluated by a faculty member as an internshipreport.Even if you have not been assigned a specific project during your internship, your report must stillcontain an analytical component. You could, for example, present an evaluation of the way youremployers organization functions in such areas as electronic commerce strategies, technologyrelated law or management issues, or technical realizations of specific company related objectives.The topic does not have to be original, but the report must be your own work and it must be relatedto your internship. Just stating that your employer is interested in, for example, cryptography, andthen writing a standard review of cryptographic techniques is not enough. You have to state clearlythe objectives of your employer and then relate the cryptographic techniques to these objectives.If you doubt your judgment on a topic, speak with your supervisor or contact your faculty advisor.Above all, choose a topic which interests you; even good writing cannot mask boredom.3.3 Writing PhaseOnce you have gathered your information and planned an outline you can begin writing. Do notworry about fancy beginnings or profound ideas – just write! As you work, keep your audience inmind. Are they familiar with the technical terms and acronyms of your work place? Your languagemust be their language.Once you have completed your first draft, put it away and give your mind a rest. When you take itout again, begin revising. Substitute accurate words for ambiguous ones; clear sentences forcomplicated phrasing. You may want to rewrite paragraphs or entire sections. The bottom line is toproduce a smoothly written, logical report. Having someone else read your revised draft is a suretest of effective communication. A friend or colleague will tell you if what you have written is 5
    • understandable. Revise a second time on the basis of this criticism. Your final version should beflawless. Your reports credibility is based as much on perfect grammar and spelling as on content.4. Report FormatThe following format guideline outlines the specific requirements of the internship report in termsof the overall structure and necessary sections which are appropriate in most circumstances. Thereis no strict rule on the length and specific formatting of text. You should be able to format yourreport in the style most appropriate for your studies. However, a typical internship reports consistof three main sections: the preliminaries, the main text and the reference material, all of which areoutlined on the following pages.4.1 PreliminariesThe preliminaries have to include 1. Title Page 2. Acknowledgement and Endorsement 3. Executive Summary 4. Table of ContentsThe Title Page introduces your reader to your report by listing the following information: reporttitle; employers name and location; date of report; your name, student number, email address, andinternship course number and year; the university name; and the ``partial fulfillment phrase. (Seethe sample title page, Appendix A.)The Acknowledgement and Endorsement on the second page should contain anyacknowledgement of assistance and a statement of endorsement, which states that you wrote thereport yourself and that it has not already received academic credit from another institution. (Seethe example page, Appendix B.)The Executive Summary is the most important part of your report. It summarizes the body of thereport, outlining its scope, purpose and major findings, highlighting the key conclusions andrecommendations. The Executive Summary allows a busy manager to understand the reportssignificant information without reading the whole text.Write your Executive Summary after you have written the report. It is not enough to state what youare `going to discuss’ in the report. The executive summary has to be self-contained and must stateall the major points of the study. You are not required to discuss in detail how you derived theconclusions or argue about it; this is part of the main body of the text. However, you have toindicate enough details about your study so that a specialist reader has a good understanding ofyour contributions detailed in the report. 6
    • The Table of Contents lists all sections and sub-sections and uses the same numbering system asthe main body of the report. The preliminaries are not listed. Remember -- ease of use isparamount.4.2 Main TextThe main text has to include 1. Introduction 2. Body 3. Discussion, Conclusions and RecommendationsThe Introduction defines the subject of the report so that the reader is prepared for the text thatfollows. Here you can outline the company and/or department for which you worked, and you cansummarize the work you performed at the company. Setting the background is important becausethe faculty member evaluating the report may not be familiar with the detailed operations of youremployer. Of course, there is no need to give a highly detailed account. The information on the sitelayout and number of employees would only be given if it relates to later parts of the report.The second part of the background should outline the history or objectives leading up to the projector study detailed in the report. The purpose of this part is to argue why the specific project or thestudy outlined in the report is of interest. From this second part of the background, the reader cannow anticipate the objectives of the study. The objective or goal of the study outlined in the reportshould be crisply stated and conceptually separated from the background and the method used.An introduction answers the question, ``Why was the specific work or study done?. Keep yourintroduction brief, but remember to outline the background and scope of the report and give a clearstatement of objectives of the study. Ask a question that you will try to answer in this study. Afterreading the introduction, your reader should be prepared for the report that follows, and rememberthat a reader will be looking for sections dealing with the issues addressed in the introduction.The Body is the longest part of your report. It is here that you develop your theme by examiningthe problem, your findings and their meaning. This body of the report should be formattedappropriately with sections and headings to guide the reader through the report.Although every report will have different section headings, there are certain themes which runthrough all reports - a description of the methods used to acquire data, a summary of the dataobtained and finally a discussion of the interpretation of the data. In this context the word ``data"can have such different meanings as actual scientific measurements, textbook information,manufacturers literature, plant logbooks, financial statements, opinions of experts or employeesand so on.Conclusions and recommendations are often confused but they are not the same thing.Conclusions are derived from research outlined in the main body and do not introduce newmaterial. They may be presented in a sequence of two or three sentence paragraphs. The 7
    • conclusions should specifically answer the questions raised in the introduction or conclude how thegoals or objectives stated in the introduction have been met.Recommendations are proposed plans of action for the future. They are suggestions followinglogically from the conclusions. Remember that conclusions deal with the present, recommendationswith the future. Each should be presented on a separate page.4.3 Reference MaterialThe reference material can include 1. References 2. Glossary 3. Nomenclature 4. AppendicesReferences lists all those books and journals, and if necessary web pages, to which you specificallyrefer in your report. Materials from other authors and diagrams that you have not drawn should beacknowledged explicitly when they are first used in your report. The references should follow awell-established and consistent style.It is very unlikely that no references are needed in your report. References have to include links toany information that is coming form external sources. This includes data or any other material onwhich your analysis is based. Any statement has to be justified. For example, a statement like “Theinternet is expanding exponentially” need to be justified. How do you know that? You have to referto the source of this information or back-up your statement on your own account if this is a novelobservation. In the former case you have to make sure that you agree with the statement, or stateotherwise (in which case you would have to justify your opinion.) If asked about any detail of thereport you must be able to answer all the questions or be able to point to the right references.The Glossary is only needed when you have used specialized terms, mathematical symbols orprofessional jargon in an extensive way. If you have used specialized terms only occasionally, it isacceptable to define it within your text. This same rule applies for the Nomenclature. It is onlyrequired if a large number of symbols are used throughout the report.The Appendix (or appendices) provides your reader with supporting information that elaborateson, but is not essential to, the development of your theme, or any information that is necessary tojustify your statements and which are too lengthy to include in the main text without interruptingthe line of thought developed there. The appendices are identified by numbers or letters. Do notinclude appendices that have not been cited in the text.5. Evaluation 8
    • A faculty member, and possibly your manager, evaluates your internship report placing equalemphasis on content and literary quality. Reports receive grades of either `pass’ or `unsatisfactory’.Unsatisfactory reports will be returned for revision; a second such grade on the same report meansa failure of the internship. Grammar and spelling errors result in an automatic ``unsatisfactory.Confidential reports are usually not accepted. It is recommended (and usually possible) to chose atopic for your report that does not conflict with confidentiality requirements. If your report containsconfidential information you must contact the program director to discuss if such material isacceptable in your internship report and how it will be evaluated.The internship report has to be submitted to the MEC executive committee allowing at least fourweeks for the evaluation.6. Suggestions for Writing Effectively``When your thinking is in order, your imagination perking, your knowledge of the reader sure andyour own purposes firm, the words will come, the sentences will build. `Take care of the sense andthe words will take care of themselves. (Handout, Writing and Reporting Class; Brodinsky, Ben.)You took care of the ``sense in your planning and outlining stages. The suggestions offered herewill help you revise. Use them as you rip apart your first draft.Use image-bearing nouns and active verbs to avoid generalizations and ambiguity. Use verbs thatpush, beat, throb, guide and thrust your ideas forward. Replace variations of ``to be, such as ``isand ``are, with more active verbs. Rather than: ``This chapter is a presentation of my findings.,write: ``This chapter presents my findings. Replace the passive (``The value of this procedure isbeing considered by the president of the company.) with the active (``The company president isconsidering this procedures value.) Avoid future tense when referring to your report; the workshould be done when you start writing. For example, do not write `In this chapter we will analyze...’; rather, write `In this chapter we analyze …’. Avoid beginning your sentences with `there and`it. Rather than ``There are eight major components to this turbine., write ``The turbine has eightmajor components.Take control of your material -- do not let it control you. Each sentence should contain one thoughtand each paragraph a series of connected thoughts. Having a host of information does not meanusing it all; do not ramble. Say what you are going to do. Do it. Support it. Conclude.Write to inform, not to impress. Jargon and colloquialisms confuse rather than clarify. Dont write:``Repairing the equipment was tough-going and the extra work cost the company a bundle., whenwhat you really want to say is: ``Repairing the equipment was complicated, time-consuming andexpensive. All of us have read sentences like this: ``The lexical ambiguity and syntacticarrangement inherent in this prose communication tend to predict a degree of confusion in thedesired recipient., which should have read like this: ``The meaning and order of the words in this 9
    • manual tend to confuse the reader. And constantly, as you write, ask yourself, ``Who is myaudience and what do they already know about this subject?Avoid using personal pronouns. Do not write ``I worked with assembly line employees to becomefamiliar with their work site concerns. but rather, ``The author worked with assembly lineworkers... Neither write “As you can see in the figure …”; instead, write “As can be seen from thefigure …”.Avoid contractions. ``The company cant proceed on the project until the work orders beenapproved. should be replaced by ``The company cannot proceed on the project until the workorder has been approved.Avoid vague comparisons and references to quantity. Rather than writing: ``A large amount ofmoney was spent on maintenance, write: ``The maintenance costs were $50,000. Do not use:``The conveyor system operated much faster with the new belt., but rather: ``With the new belt,the conveyor system operated at 50 ft/min, twice the original speed.As a master student you are expected to be concise and accurate in your statements but not to anunwarranted degree. Poor: ``The temperature was kept constant at 93.476 degrees Celsius.Good: ``The temperature was kept constant at 93.5 degrees Celsius."Being accurate is part of being professional. Verify your figures, information and facts. Checkspelling and definitions in a dictionary. Search for more accurate words in a thesaurus. Beconsistent in tense, person and presentation. If you quote, provide a reference; plagiarism isunacceptable.Above all, do not panic. If you are having problems with the report talk to your manager or contactyour faculty adviser. 10
    • 7. APPENDIX ADalhousie University, Master of Electronic Commerce ProgramThe Faculties of Computer Science, Management, and Law Evaluation of electronic payment systems for m-commerce services offered by ABC Inc. by Able Smith B00911119 asmith@cs.dal.ca Performed at ABC Inc., Sales division 123 Dollar Lane Byteville, N.S.in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Electronic Commerce ProgramReport of Internship ECMM 7005, September 2 – December 12, 2003Date Submitted: January 15, 2004 11
    • 8. APPENDIX BThis report has been written by me and has not received any previous academic credit at this or anyother institution.I would like to thank Ms. R. Jackson for providing the performance data used in this study, and Mr.M. Thompson for his useful suggestions on the manuscript.(signature)Able Smith 12